Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Art of Baking

I spent a good amount of time in the kitchen (rather than the studio) the past few days baking desserts in preparation for my adult children coming home for the Thanksgiving holiday. I put away my paints, palettes, and brushes in exchange for the mixmaster, cookie sheets, cake pans, and butter. My Grandma Esther would be proud, as I not only baked many of her family recipes but I also created a small cook book for my children, nieces, and nephews so that they each will have the opportunity to continue the legacy of what has become family favorite dessert recipes.

Below are crescent rolls that are filled with butter, cinnamon, sugar, and raisins. Once they are rolled they have to sit an hour before baking so that the yeast dough can rise a bit.

Fresh out of the oven.

Coffee cake, sour cream dough with a filling of brown sugar, white sugar, lemon and orange rind, walnuts, and raisins.

 Mandel bread, a buttery cookie with almonds and walnuts, very similar to biscotti.

Basic chocolate frosting, it goes well with anything and everything!

Chocolate buttermilk cake with frosting.

Banana cake with and without frosting.

Basic brownies sprinkled with powdered sugar.

My grandmother had 3 sons, my father was the oldest. I was the first born of her granddaughters and always felt a special bond with my grandmother. I have wonderful memories of family holiday dinners and in a way it felt as if I was channeling her with all of the baking I did this week and then by putting together her recipes for the kids. There is definitely an art of baking and cooking. On facebook today one of my cousins posted this comment after seeing some of these photos - "When grandma would make me scrambled eggs she would say 'a little paprika just for color'". My grandmother was an incredible artist in the kitchen, this post is in honor of her memory.

Grandma and me around 1965.


  1. Such a great photo to go with the memories. My grandmothers passed away when I was very young; don't remember them and I never cooked until I was married.

    Tomorrow I'm going to attempt rugula for the first time--haven't had it in years (no bakeries around). If it turns out okay I'll be taking it to Thanksgiving dinner at a neighbor's. I had to borrow a rolling pin because mine's in the studio and has been used for rolling out clay.

    Your buttermilk chocolate cakes makes my mouth water; passing on your recipes is a wonderful gift. Happy Thanksgiving.

  2. Good luck with the rugula, I love it and the bakery in town makes a chocolate rugula that is delicious (I have a thing for chocolate). The chocolate cake was my all time favorite as a kid but now it's mandel bread. Let me know how the rugula turns out, I am interested.

  3. Your post really made me drool and brought back a lot of childhood memories.You are a fantastic artist in the kitchen as well as in the studio! Wish I could still eat all those fantastic deserts. I know your family will have a wonderful Thanksgiving with you!

    1. I wish I didn't love to eat all these desserts! I pickup my son in an hour and my older daughter is not here until tomorrow morning but I do think making memories via the kitchen makes it more special.

  4. What a wonderful post, Robin. It sounds like you and your family will have an awesome Thanksgiving too. I love the photo of you and your grandmother too. Judging by your photo and the year, it seems that you and I are darned close in age.

    1. I think you mentioned a birthday on your blog Sherry and I believe I am a yr older than you! I recently went through family photo albums for my younger daughter's high school and that's when I stumbled upon the photos from my childhood. Where does the time go.

  5. Hi Robin--thought I'd let you know how my art in the kitchen went. It's 9:40 p.m. and the last batch is cooling. I began at 1 p.m. I'm calling this creation "Collapsed Rugelah." Maybe it's because I couldn't find my sifter--I ran the flour through a tea strainer twice instead. Then my little Kitchenaid chopper didn't work--got out my big knife. The cookies are delicious; I've eaten at least five. They may be flat because it took me forever to roll each little ball into a 9" circle; I used the yardstick to measure the first one. I always think I should videotape my kitchen adventures. I used Lora Brody's recipe at epicurious dot com. A lot of work for one tin of cookies (and I found that the filling smeared and sprinkled on a club cracker is yummy).

    Have a great Holiday

  6. Over 8 hours in the kitchen for 1 recipe, impressive! I do think the dough is the key to a delicious rugelah. I don't use my sifter for flour anymore because the flour I buy is pre-sifted, the sifting you did sounded time consuming. But what really matters is the end result - a delicious masterpiece! Happy Thanksgiving, Hallie.